Project Three: The Expressionist/Surrealist Art Movie


Each person/group will create a short Art House movie.  This movie will be a science-fiction/suspense/horror/expressionist/surrealist type of movie.  Each student will be given a broad set of parameters regarding: 1) specific camera shots and 2) certain After Effects tools/techniques that will be required to be used in this project.  These broad parameters, this set of givens, will then be interpreted/personalized in great detail by each individual artist and/or group.


Inspiration for Project Includes These Expressionist and Surrealist Films: 


• Robert Wiene: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

• F.W. Murnau: Nosferatu (1922)

• Many Ray: The Mysteries of the Chateau of Dice (1929)

• Luis Buñuel/Salvador Dali:  Un Chien Andalou (1929) & L’Age d’Or (1930)

• Luis Buñuel:  The Exterminating Angel (1962), Simon of the Desert (1965),

   The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972), & the Phantom of Liberty (1974)

• Jean Cocteau: The Orphic Trilogy (1930-1960)

• Maya Deren: Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

• Kenneth Anger: Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954) & Lucifer Rising (1970-


 • Jack Smith: Flaming Creatures (1962-1963) & Normal Love (1963)

• Gregory Markopoulos: The Illiac Passion (1964-1967)

• Sergei Parajanov: Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965) & The Color of

   Pomegranates (1969)

• Alejandro Jodorowsky: El Topo (1970) & The Holy Mountain (1973)

• Stanley Kubrick: A Clockwork Orange (1971)

• Terry Gilliam: Brazil (1985)

• David Lynch: Blue Velvet (1986), Twin Peaks (1990-1991), Lost Highway (1997),

   & Mulholland Drive (2001)

• Steven Soderbergh: Schizopolis (1997)

• Matthew Barney: Cremaster Cycle (1994-2002) & River of Fundament (2006-2014)




TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS:  These lessons in After Effects and Motion encompass all of the parameters of the project.  You can stich things together however you want.   You can order things in any way that you see fit.  However, you must first write a script and create a storyboard for your project.  It must include a variety of shots, including close-ups, medium shots, and long shots.  It must also have one or more: tracking shot, zoom shot, rack focus shot, canted frame shot,  panning shot, and shot/reverse shot.  It must have a combination of hard cuts and cross fades.  It must have a title screen and it must have credits.  You must use copyright free music and sound effects, which are to be found online provided by Salisbury University, or you can create your own.  It must use all of the After Effects lessons above.  The project must be between 3-5 minutes. 


CREATIVE REQUIREMENTS:  The sky is changed and the world is different.  You have had a part of your body removed, or you have lost something that was part of yourself.  You are searching for what you have lost.  You will meet different people on your journey who will point you in the right or wrong direction.  You will go through different dimensions, or dreamscapes.  These strange worlds can be real or imagined, something dredged up from the subconscious or something that is breaking through into the real world.    You will wander strange places, pass through hallways, passageways, doorways, try keys to strange locks, walk up and down stairways.  You will be searching for this lost part of yourself.  You will ask people if they have seen it. You will search high and low for it.  Will you find it and become whole again?




DH Lawrence “Sick” 1929

I am sick, because I have given myself away.

I have given myself to the people when they came

so cultured, even bringing little gifts,

so they pecked a shred of my life, and flew off with a croak

of sneaking exultance.

So now I have lost too much, and am sick.


I am trying now to learn never

to give of my life to the dead,

never, not the tiniest shred.


Stephen Crane “I saw a man pursuing the horizon” 1895


I saw a man pursuing the horizon;

Round and round they sped.

I was disturbed at this;   

I accosted the man.

“It is futile,” I said,

“You can never —”


“You lie,” he cried,   

And ran on.


Stephen Crane “In the Desert” 1895


In the desert

I saw a creature, naked, bestial,

Who, squatting upon the ground,

Held his heart in his hands,


And ate of it.

I said, “Is it good, friend?”

“It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;


“But I like it

“Because it is bitter,

“And because it is my heart.”


Neil Young “Lookout Joe” 1975


Remember Millie

from down in Philly?

She took my brain

and forgot my name.

The woman you were with

was about the same

She took your money and left town.


This project is inspired by a really stupid question that has occupied religious scholars and philosophers since the Medieval times: “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?”  This question was hotly debated for centuries and a story is told that the defenders of Constantinople were preoccupied with the question while the Ottoman Army scaled the walls.  The question currently is a metaphor for wasting time on debating topics of no practical value.


In groups of three, you will check out a field recorder from the Cage.  You will then find an isolated, quiet spot in which to have a conversation.  The Tower Conference Rooms of Conway Hall are good locations, as well as the lounges.  In this location, you will have a conversation as a group of three and record it on the field recorder.  The conversation must last at least twenty minutes long and the topic will be a set of open-ended questions given to you at the beginning of class.  The open-ended questions will be inspired by the infamous, “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin.”


Once you complete the conversation (make sure everyone speaks), you will take the results into the studio and load it into ProTools.  You will decide together what excerpt to take.  Create a 30-40 second soundtrack.  You can use sound effects if you wish.  You can chop up the audio as much as you want, or if you got a usable take without too much editing, great for you, too!  This soundtrack will then serve as the dialogue for your Claymation.  


Start to think about what kind of clay figure will serve to represent you.  Draw some ideas out before molding the figure in clay.  Also, decide what kind of backdrop will be used for the animation.  We can use cardboard, wooden dowels, glue, tape, and paint.  I will also want to have a title screen with the name of the piece and the collaborators.  You will make the title screen with markers on paper.  You will use the copy stand for the title sequence, taking top down shots.  You must use a combination of long, medium, and close-up shots in the Claymation.  Don’t make the movements too complex.  Be economical, but don’t make it boring.  Use a combination of variety and repetition.  Finish the conversation soundtrack on the first day.

Things to Keep in Mind…

  1. Stop motion animations with clay and misc. objects

  2. Use DSLR Camera

  3. Set to the conversation from the first day of class

  4. Top down set up on copy stand for hand drawn title sequence

  5. Create characters.  Moving eyes and lips are effective.  Close ups of eyes and lips are great, too.  Remember to be economical but not dull. 

  6. Making objects transform can be magical.  Make things grow or shrink.  Make them change colors, melt away, fall apart, mold back together.

  7. Use a variety of shots: close ups, medium shots, long shots.

  8. Zoom in and out?

  9. Maybe use depth of field with the DSLR? Try different lenses for different shots?

  10. Not too much detail on background.  KIS method: Keep It Simple. More attention should be paid to the clay figures.

  11.  Make it strange and unexpected.  Make it weird.  But don’t make it so weird that it is unintelligible.  

Campfire Tales. New Media 2 Claymation. 2017

Water on Mars.  New Media 2 Claymation. 2017



In groups of two or three, you will create a stop motion animation of parables by the author, Franz Kafka.  As a group, you will choose which story you would like to animate.  You must create a script and a storyboard for the animation.  You must create hand drawn and painted cut outs and backdrops.  They do not have to be complex.  They can be as simple as South Park.  You will use the Copy Stands and the DSLR Cameras.  You can do this in the 352 Classroom in Conway Hall, the Photo Lab in Fulton, and/or 333D in Conway Hall.  If you have your own lights and tripod system, you can do it anywhere.  I want: original or copyright free music to be used, original voice overs, copyright free Sound Effects, a Title Sequence, and credits with names.  The animation should be between 3 and 4 minutes long.  

Before the Law.  New Media 2. 2017

Franz Kafka's Before the Law:  Before the Law stands a doorkeeper on guard. To this doorkeeper there comes a man from the country who begs for admittance to the Law. But the doorkeeper says that he cannot admit the man at the moment. The man, on reflection, asks if he will be allowed, then, to enter later. 'It is possible,' answers the doorkeeper, 'but not at this moment.' Since the door leading into the Law stands open as usual and the doorkeeper steps to one side, the man bends down to peer through the entrance. When the doorkeeper sees that, he laughs and says: 'If you are so strongly tempted, try to get in without my permission. But note that I am powerful. And I am only the lowest doorkeeper. From hall to hall keepers stand at every door, one more powerful than the other. Even the third of these has an aspect that even I cannot bear to look at.' These are difficulties which the man from the country has not expected to meet, the Law, he thinks, should be accessible to every man and at all times, but when he looks more closely at the doorkeeper in his furred robe, with his huge pointed nose and long, thin, Tartar beard, he decides that he had better wait until he gets permission to enter. The doorkeeper gives him a stool and lets him sit down at the side of the door. There he sits waiting for days and years. He makes many attempts to be allowed in and wearies the doorkeeper with his importunity. The doorkeeper often engages him in brief conversation, asking him about his home and about other matters, but the questions are put quite impersonally, as great men put questions, and always conclude with the statement that the man cannot be allowed to enter yet. The man, who has equipped himself with many things for his journey, parts with all he has, however valuable, in the hope of bribing the doorkeeper. The doorkeeper accepts it all, saying, however, as he takes each gift: 'I take this only to keep you from feeling that you have left something undone.' During all these long years the man watches the doorkeeper almost incessantly. He forgets about the other doorkeepers, and this one seems to him the only barrier between himself and the Law. In the first years he curses his evil fate aloud; later, as he grows old, he only mutters to himself. He grows childish, and since in his prolonged watch he has learned to know even the fleas in the doorkeeper's fur collar, he begs the very fleas to help him and to persuade the doorkeeper to change his mind. Finally his eyes grow dim and he does not know whether the world is really darkening around him or whether his eyes are only deceiving him. But in the darkness he can now perceive a radiance that streams immortally from the door of the Law. Now his life is drawing to a close. Before he dies, all that he has experienced during the whole time of his sojourn condenses in his mind into one question, which he has never yet put to the doorkeeper. He beckons the doorkeeper, since he can no longer raise his stiffening body. The doorkeeper has to bend far down to hear him, for the difference in size between them has increased very much to the man's disadvantage. 'What do you want to know now?' asks the doorkeeper, 'you are insatiable.' 'Everyone strives to attain the Law,' answers the man, 'how does it come about, then, that in all these years no one has come seeking admittance but me?' The doorkeeper perceives that the man is at the end of his strength and that his hearing is failing, so he bellows in his ear: 'No one but you could gain admittance through this door, since this door was intended only for you. I am now going to shut it.' "

Couriers, My Destination, & the Watchman.  New Media 2. 2017

Franz Kafka's Couriers:  They were offered the choice between becoming kings or the couriers of kings. The way children would, they all wanted to be couriers. Therefore there are only couriers who hurry about the world, shouting to each other--since there are no kings--messages that have become meaningless. They would like to put an end to this miserable life of theirs but they dare not because of their oaths of service.

Franz Kafka's My Destination:  I gave orders for my horse to be brought round from the stables. The servant did not understand me. I myself went to the stable, saddled my horse and mounted. In the distance I heard a bugle call, I asked him what this meant. He knew nothing and had heard nothing. At the gate he stopped me, asking: "Where are you riding to, master?" "I don't know," I said, "only away from here, away from here. Always away from here, only by doing so can I reach my destination." "And so you know your destination?" he asked. "Yes," I answered, "didn't I say so? Away-From-Here, that is my destination." "You have no provisions with you," he said. "I need none," I said, "the journey is so long that I must die of hunger if I don't get anything on the way. No provisions can save me. For it is, fortunately, a truly immense journey."

Franz Kafka's The Watchman:  I ran past the first watchman. Then I was horrified, ran back and said to the watchman: "I ran through here while you were looking the other way." The watchman gazed ahead of him and said nothing. "I suppose I really oughtn't to have done it," I said. The watchman still said nothing. "Does your silence indicate permission to pass?". . .

The Building of a City.  New Media 2. 2017

Franz Kafka's The Building of a City:  Some people came to me and asked me to build a city for them. I said there were far too few of them, there would be room enough for them in one house, I was not going to build any city for them. But they said there would be yet others coming along and that there were, after all, married people among them who were expecting children, nor need the city be built all at once, but only the ground plan established and the rest carried out bit by bit. I asked where they wanted to have the city built; they said they would show me the place in a moment. We went along the river until we came to a fairly high board hill, steep on the side next to the river but otherwise sloping away gently. They said up there was where they wanted to have the city built. There was nothing there but thin-growing-grass, and no trees, which suited me, but the drop of the river seemed too steep to me and I drew their attention to this. They said, however, that there was no harm in this, the city would, after all, extend along the other slopes and would have enough other means of access to the water, and besides, in the course of time ways would perhaps be found of somehow coping with the steep cliff; in any case, that was not to be any obstacle to founding a city on this spot. Besides, they said, they were young and strong and could easily climb up the cliff, which they said they would demonstrate to me at once. They did so; like lizards their bodies darted upwards among the crevices in the rock, and soon they were at the top. I went up too and asked them why they wanted the city to be built precisely here. The place did not seem to be particularly suitable for purposes of defense, its only natural protection was on the riverside, and precisely there, after all, was where one would have wished to have the means of setting out easily and freely; but the plateau was easily accessible from all other sides, and for that reason, and alse because of its greater expanse, difficult to defend. Apart from this, the ground up here had not yet been tested for its fertility, and to remain dependent on the lowlands and at the mercy of transport was a dangerous thing for a city, especially in times of unrest. Further, it had not yet been established whether there was enough drinking water available up there; the little spring they showed me did not seem good enough to rely on.

"You're tired," one of them said, "you don't want to build the city." "Yes I'm tired," I said and sat down on a boulder near the spring. They dipped a cloth in the water and freshened my face with it. I thanked them. Then I said that I wanted to walk round the plateau once by myself, and left them; it took a long time; when I came back it was dark; they were all lying round the spring, asleep; a light rain was falling. 

In the morning I repeated my question. They did not immediately understand how I could repeat the evening's question in the morning. Then, however, they said they could not give me the exact reasons for which they had chosen this place, but there were ancient traditions that recommended the place. Even their forefathers had wanted to build the city here, but for some reasons, which tradition did not record exactly either, they had not begun after all. In any case, then, it was no wanton whim that had led them to this place; on the contrary they did not even much care for the place, and the counterarguments they had already thought of for themselves and acknowledged to be irrefutable, but there it was, they said there was this tradition, and anyone who did not follow tradition would be annihilated. For this reason, they said, they could not understand why I was hesitating and had not, indeed, begun to build the day before. 

I resolved to go away, and climbed down the cliff to the river. But one of them had awakened and had waked the others and now they stood on the edge of the cliff and I was only halfway down and they pleaded and called to me. So I turned back, they helped me and pulled me up. They were very grateful to me, made speeches to me, kissed me.

The Problem with Our Laws.  New Media 2. 2017

Franz Kafka's The Problem with Our Laws:  Our laws are not generally known; they are kept secret by the small group of nobles who rule us. We are convinced that these ancient laws are scrupulously administered; nevertheless, it is an extremely painful thing to be ruled by laws that one does not know. I am not thinking of possible discrepancies that may arise in the interpretation of the laws, or of the disadvantages involved when only a few and not the whole people are allowed to have a say in their interpretation. These disadvantages are perhaps of no great importance. For the laws are very ancient; their interpretation has been the work of centuries, and has itself doubtless acquired the status of law; and though there is still a possible freedom of interpretation left, it has now become very restricted. Moreover the nobles have obviously no cause to be influenced in their interpretation by personal interests inimical to us, for the laws were made to the advantage of the nobles from the very beginning, they themselves stand above the laws, and that seems to be why the laws were entrusted exclusively into their hands. Of course, there is wisdom in that--who doubts the wisdom of the anicent laws?--but also hardship for us; probably that is unavoidable.

The very existence of these laws, however, is at most a matter of presumption. There is a tradition that they exist and that they are a mystery confided to the nobility, but it is not and cannot be more than a mere tradition sanctioned by age, for the essence of a secret code is that it should remain a mystery. Some of us among the people have attentively scrutinized the doings of the nobility since the earliest times and possess records made by our forefathers--records which we have conscientiously continued--and claim to recognize amid the countless number of facts certain main tendencies which permit of this or that historical formulation; but when in accordance with these scrupulously tested and logically ordered conclusions we seek to orient ourselves somewhat towards the present or the future, everything becomes uncertain, and our work seems only an intellectual game, for perhaps these laws that we are trying to unravel do not exist at all. There is a small party who are actually of this opinion and who try to show us that, if any law exists, it can only be this: The Law is whatever the nobles do. This party see everywhere only the arbitrary acts of the nobility, and reject the popular tradition, which according to them possesses only certain trifling and incidental advantages that do not offset its heavy drawbacks, for it gives the people a false, deceptive and over-confident security in confronting coming events. This cannot be gainsaid, but the overwhelming majority of our people account for it by the fact that the tradition is far from complete and must be more fully enquired into, that the material available, prodigious as it looks, is still too meager, and that several centuries will have to pass before it becomes really adequate. This view, so comfortless as far as the present is converned, is lightened only by the belief that a time will eventually come when the tradition and our research into it will jointly reach their conclusion, and as it were gain a breathing space, when everything will have become clear, the law itself will belong to the people, and the nobility will vanish. This is not maintained in any spirit of hatred against the nobility; not at all, and by no one. We are more inclined to hate ourselves, because we have not yet shown ourselves worthy of being entrusted with the laws. And that is the real reason why the party which believes that there is no law has always remained so small--although its doctrine is in certain ways so attractive, for it unequivocally recognizes the nobility and its right to go on living. 

Actually one can express the problem only in a sort of paradox: Any party which would repudiate, not only all belief in the laws, but in the nobility as well, would have the whole people behind it; yet no such party can come into existence, for nobody would dare to repudiate the nobility. We live on this razor edge. A writer once summed up the matter up in this way: The sole visible and indubiatable law that is imposed upon us is the nobility, and must we ourselves deprive ourselves of that one law?

The Attic.  David Parks. HD Video 1920X1080. New Media 2. 2017

Wake-Up.  Mike Levay. HD Video 1920X1080. New Media 2. 2017

Soundscape.  Kelly Hamm. HD Video 1920X1080. New Media 2. 2017